PAINTING WITH ELEPHANTS AT MAESA ELEPHANT CAMP IN CHIANG MAI
While I was in Chiang Mai, I was grateful to get to experience some amazing animal encounters. I did everything from petting hippos to riding elephants, and even hugged a few massive tigers. I thought I had seen it all until I scheduled a private elephant painting lesson at the Maesa Elephant Camp.
For those of you that don’t know, a private elephant paint lesson is exactly what it sounds like. You are going to have a private one on one painting lesson with an elephant. Now, like I talked about in my Ran-tong post, I love animals. I don’t like seeing animals in situations where I feel they are being treated poorly. When it comes to the Maesa Elephant Camp, the elephants that I encountered looked as if they had decent living conditions. I will say that I can’t speak for the training that the elephants go through to learn how to paint.
The one thing I didn’t like was seeing the thick, heavy chains that a lot of the show elephants were wearing.
When you first get the Maesa Elephant Camp, you are going to go on a quick tour of their elephant painting museum. There you will see some amazing elephant paintings. The most expensive painting done by elephants was actually done at the Maesa Elephant Camp. Half of the painting is still at the Maesa Elephant Camp, while the other half was given to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand. The painting was sold for 20660 pounds ($26934).
After you go on the quick tour, you will head out to a large, green open area where you will meet your elephant.
Our elephant came out with his mahout and gave both my sister and I kiss on the cheek.
They have special paint brushes designed to fit into the end of the elephants’ trunk. Once you mix the color that you want the elephant to use, you dip the paintbrush in the color and then put the brush in their trunk. There are two ways for the elephant to paint. The first method is you drag your finger across the canvas and the elephant will follow your finger. The second method is the mahout will move the elephants’ ear and the elephant will, in turn, move its trunk on the canvas in the direction that his ear is being moved.
Don’t wear your best clothes either, because the elephant might get some paint on you. Megan was lucky to only get a small amount of the pain on her. Animals aren’t perfect, so I would plan on getting some paint on yourself.
Whichever method you decide to use, you can guarantee that your elephant masterpiece will come out amazing.
When you’re done with your private elephant painting lesson, you will then be escorted to the other side of the park where the general public goes to see the large elephant painting shows.
Your private elephant paint lesson is not a cheap activity. The cost for one person is 6,000 Bhat ($173). If you have a second person with you, they can join you for the elephant painting experience, but you will still only get one elephant painting. This is one of those things that is truly a once in a lifetime experience. How many people do you know that have had a private painting lesson with an elephant? Before I did this, I didn’t know anyone who had the opportunity to do something as amazing as paint with an elephant.
If you want to see an elephant paint, the Maesa Elephant Camp does have an elephant painting show, and you can then buy elephant paintings in their gift store. Prices go from 1,000 Bhat ($29) all the way up to 7,500 Bhat ($217). The public elephant show is stadium style seating and it does completely fill up, so you’ll want to get to the show early so you can get a good seat. We watched part of that show and it defiantly isn’t the same as the private elephant painting lesson. It is actually sad; watching the elephants paint in front of so many people. The elephants doing the big public shows were chained up so that wasn’t pleasant to see.
I did pick up a few elephant paintings for my home. The two pieces of art traveled with me around Asia as I continued my travels. The first thing I did when I got home was frame the two pieces of elephant art and hung them on my living room wall. Now when people walk into my home, my two elephant paintings are the first thing that they notice. Most of the time people don’t believe that an elephant painted them, and I have to show them all of my pictures from the Maesa Elephant Camp.
I had a fantastic time at the Maesa Elephant Camp with my private elephant painting lesson. If I hadn’t experienced the private elephant paint lesson, I do think that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. My elephant wasn’t chained up or restrained; it was disturbing to me that the elephants had to wear dog collar like chains around their necks while painting in front of hundreds of people.
If you want to do a private elephant painting lesson, I would head to the Maesa Elephant Camp. You will pay a hefty price for the experience, but it is definitely worth it for the once in a lifetime experience.
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What are your thoughts on the painting elephants? Do you think that, if someone loves animals, that they should even partake in these animal encounters? Let me know in the comments below.